Health Ministry monitors cholera outbreak in Venezuela
The Ministry of Health has said that it is continuing to monitor the outbreak of cholera in Venezuela, where there has been confirmation of 111 imported cases from the Dominican Republic. No deaths have been confirmed.
“I want to assure the public that the Ministry of Health is being very vigilant. There is no reason for anyone to be fearful. I want to reiterate we are being vigilant and very watchful,” Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy emphasized in a release issued last evening.
It was also noted that together with cases in Haiti, starting in the 41st epidemiological week in 2010, these are the first large-scale cases in the Americas since 1994.
“In the Region of the Americas during 2009, seventeen cases of cholera (all imported) were reported from Canada and the USA (12 cases), and Paraguay with a small cluster of five cases with no deaths. No significant activity with regards to cholera was reported for 2010 until the situation in earthquake ravaged Haiti developed.”
According to the Health Ministry release, in the 41st epidemiological week of 2010, Haiti reported an increase of acute diarrheal diseases in the Department of Artibonite and in the Central Department. In week 42, the isolation of Vibro cholera O-1 serotype Ogawa was confirmed in a sample of hospitalized patients.
Artibonite is traditionally a rice producing district that was overwhelmed by refugees from the earthquake ravaged capital area living with relatives since January 2010.
During the 47th week, Dominican Republic and the USA reported imported cases of Cholera from Haiti while Venezuela now reports 111 imported cases from Dominican Republic. Other cases from the source in Dominican Republic were reported in Mexico, Spain and the United States.
The Health Ministry developed a “Stop Cholera” plan for Guyana and began its implementation in epidemiological week 44. The plan consists of a number of measures including:
1. Strengthening of port vigilance and border area surveillance for all inbound travelers.
2. Upgrading of the national syndromic surveillance system to enhance daily reports from sentinel sites around the capital and in strategic areas such as Region 1, Region 2, Region 6 and Region 9.
3. Commencing the development and implementation of a revised plan to manage diarrheal disease nationally, with emphasis on oral rehydration therapy and management of dehydration
4. Enhancing the capacity of the national laboratory system to test for and confirm cholera from stool samples
5. Stocking all the essential medicines and supplies needed to manage cholera at all health facilities.
6. Developing and implementing a plan along with several stakeholders (PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and GWI) to improve sanitation and hygiene nationwide.
7. Developing and implementing an awareness campaign to educate the public on the risk of diarrhea, management of cases and control measures.
The Ministry stated that it will continue to monitor the situation in the Region and will provide regular updates on the situation to the media.